Royal Caribbean’s UK and Europe chief says booking momentum remains “strong” for the line despite a “frightening” rise in living costs.
Speaking as Royal’s latest Oasis-class ship Wonder of the Seas made its European debut, vice-president EMEA Ben Bouldin said inflation had yet to dent the post-pandemic recovery.
However, he added the line is “always keeping a close eye” on the situation as UK consumers face price hikes in almost every area of their day-to-day lives.
“At the moment we’re seeing some frightening price increases in the UK and I know they’re being mirrored in many markets across the EMEA region,” he said.
“Fortunately, we’re seeing really good momentum at Royal Caribbean at the moment with people continuing to book, and long may that continue.
“Of course we’re always keeping a close eye on it and I’m sure everyone is hoping inflation doesn’t get any higher.”
Bouldin added the current booking curve is “not what we’re used to”, with the line “selling more for 2022 today than we were at the same stage three years ago in 2019”.
When asked what impact rising fuel costs are having on the line, he said: “I won’t give you numbers, but from the impact you’re seeing when you fill your car up, you can probably imagine what the impact is on us.”
However, he added the line is “constantly optimising” its itineraries to make them as energy-efficient as possible, adding Royal Caribbean is “trying our best not to pass any of the costs on to the customer”.
Wonder of the Seas is currently on a two-day trade sailing before embarking on its full maiden voyage on May 8.
The fifth Oasis-class vessel will run seven-night sailings from Barcelona and the port of Rome from May 8.
It will visit destinations including Florence, Naples, Capri, Provence and Malaga.
The western Mediterranean sailings will continue until October as the line deploys eight ships in Europe, including Odyssey of the Seas making its debut in the region.
Wonder of the Seas features a new, eighth neighbourhood for Royal Suite Class passengers, including a private sun deck with a plunge pool and bar.
Other features include 40-plus restaurants, bars and lounges, and four ‘stages’ – air, ice, water and theatre – including more than 100 performers and technicians.
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